I was walking over here just this afternoon and thinking about how far the whole combine has come. This is probably my 30th year. The first one I was at was, I think, the second one at Arizona State. Obviously it was held outdoors. One of the days ended, I would say not in total darkness, but certainly past dusk. And I still have the image of Refrigerator Perry doing the vertical jump out there on the vertex in the middle of the Arizona State field, in almost total darkness. Now we have the banners on the streets. NFL Network. This is a huge media event and fan event. It started, for me, about 30 years ago – 1985 would have been [Perry's] rookie year. So it's really come along the way.
Obviously, it's a great opportunity for our organization to see the players – 300-however-many of them it is, 330, 340, however many it happens to be, from a medical standpoint. I'd say that's probably the biggest thing we get out of this, to have the physical examinations and have them all done at one time. I know we have the [medical] re-checks here later on in the spring. Just to be able to get through all the physicals and not have to fly guys back and forth like we had to do a couple decades ago – give them 20 MRIs on their shoulder in every different city. The medical part of it is huge. Having some interaction with the players personally is good; certainly good for me because I've had almost zero over the course of the year due to the demands of our season. Just being able to see them in person, even though the drills are workout drills – they're not really football drills – there is something to be said for being able to line all the guys up together and watch them compete with each other and go through it all. So it's a great opportunity to see all that. As I said, it's tremendous growth in this event and the whole scouting nature of the National Football League and how it has progressed through the years. So that's kind of where I am today. We're just getting started.
It was interesting this morning to see, really, almost the entire Tennessee offensive line there. I guess [Alex] Bullard wasn't there but he could have been invited – they could have had him, too, and then we would have had the whole five linemen from Tennessee. That was pretty unusual to see that many guys from one school in that group. Obviously, it's a pretty good looking group of players. We have a long way to go in the evaluation and I'm nowhere close to being able to give you any type of analysis or evaluation of what this draft is or isn't. I've spent only the time since the end of the season, the Senior Bowl, film, and now getting started here. It certainly looks like there will be a lot of interesting players and certainly a lot of guys we have to do work on. This is, I guess, the heaviest underclass group that's come out. A lot of those players weren't surprises, obviously, but because of the large number of them plenty of them were. So we have a lot of catching up to do in that area.
That's pretty much what I got.
Q: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE CHANGES IN YOUR COACHING STAFF THE LAST 4-5 WEEKS?
BB: I think our coaching staff is pretty well set right now, so we'll go forward with it. I'm glad to have the people that we have. We'll see how it all comes together.
Q: WHAT EXACTLY WILL MIKE LOMBARDI BE DOING FOR YOU?
BB: Mike's got a lot of experience. He's done a lot of things in his career in the NFL. I'm sure he'll be doing many of those things for us. We'll see how it goes.
Q: WHAT EXACTLY IS HIS TITLE GOING TO BE?
BB: We announced that today.
Q: WHERE DO YOU STAND WITH A COUPLE OF YOUR FREE AGENTS — JULIAN EDELMAN, AQIB TALIB. HOW MUCH PRIORITY DO YOU SEE AS BRINGING THEM BACK?
BB: I talked about that at the end of the season, about the process that involves. And I'll say we're in that process.
Q: WHAT ATTRIBUTES CAN YOU SEE IN A PLAYER IN THE 3-CONE DRILL?
BB: I think it gives you some evaluation of a combination of his lateral movement and vertical movement. We can see the vertical movements in the 10s, the 40s – 10-20-40, that's all one drill. The shuttle drill, for the skill players, which is a 60-yard test but it's all vertical. The 20-yard 5-10-5 change-of-direction drill is really a lateral drill. The L drill or 3-cone drill combines a vertical and lateral element with it. Once again, I think you always want to keep in mind in those drills, whichever ones of those you're talking about, ideal conditions, ideal start, nobody lining up across from you, nobody hitting you when you try to release and run ‘em. Nobody hitting you at the finish line. Nothing to think about -- no play, no snap count, no defense, no offensive adjustment, no anything. It's just a straight timed measurement, which is fine, because otherwise when you put all those other variables in it, it would be really hard to manage it. It is what it is. It is a time measurement that isn't really a football-specific drill because of all the variables in football that are not a part of it.
Q: HOW CAN YOU TELL IF A PLAYER CAN BE MOTIVATED OR WILL RESPOND TO YOUR COACHING?
BB: When we evaluate players, it's a long, thorough process we go through. Obviously it's very inexact. We've been right on players, we're been wrong on players, just like every other team, every other coach, and every other personnel person has. So we do the best we can. It's a long process that involves visiting the school, interviewing with the player, talk with the people who have had the most involvement with him, like his coaches, college coaches, high school coaches, even beyond that. Other people that have had associations with him, former teammates, so forth and so on. It's a mosaic composed of a lot of different pieces and you try to fit them all together and put some type of evaluation on the player. You do that for all the players. Each one is different. Each one is unique. But at the same time you have to have some type of system that accounts for what you feel the player's value is to your football team. That's what it's all about.
Q: HOW COME YOU DIDN'T HIRE LOMBARDI DURING THOSE FIVE YEARS HE WASN'T WITH ANY TEAM?
BB: We always do what we think is best for our football team.
Q: WILL IT BE MAYBE A LITTLE MORE IMPORTANT TO HAVE CONTINUITY ON THE OFFENSIVE SIDE OF THE FOOTBALL, IN TERMS OF PERSONNEL?
BB: I don't know.
Q: ANY TOPIC YOU FELT YOU HAD TO RE-UNDERLINE WHEN IT COMES TO SOCIAL SENSITIVITIES, LANGUAGE SENSITIVIES, WORKPLACE ENVIRONMENT? PLAN TO DO MORE IN THE FUTURE?
BB: I think the way we have done it is...we'll continue to do it the way we've done it. I think I've been in constant communication with our team on a daily basis, our captains, and so forth. We address any things that come up. Obviously this isn't any new story. This has been out there for quite some time, along with a lot of other ones. What we feel is appropriate to talk to the team about, we'll talk to the team about.